ITOCHU Announces Business Alliance with GE Healthcare Japan and RF in Promoting the Clinic Innovation Project for General Practitioners

February 28, 2011

ITOCHU Corporation (headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo; Masahiro Okafuji, President & CEO; hereinafter “ITOCHU”) announced today that it agreed with GE Healthcare Japan Corporation (headquartered in Hino-shi, Tokyo; Akihiko Kumagai, President & CEO; hereinafter “GE Healthcare”) and RF Co., Ltd. (headquartered in Nagano-shi, Nagano; Jiro Maruyama, President & CEO; hereinafter “RF”) to collaborate in the promotion of the Clinic Innovation Project, with the aim of expanding the sale of medical equipment and the provision of healthcare related services for general practitioners.

Unlike the traditional sales model where medical equipment manufacturers or dealers visit hospitals or clinics to showcase and sell their products, the Clinic Innovation Project provides unique and innovative platforms in which products are showcased by direct mail, website, or other means to general practitioners who, whenever interested, can then visit the showroom, examine the products to check the functions, and make a purchase. Going forward, general practitioners will be able to receive healthcare-related information and services in the showroom and on the website.

With the Japanese healthcare environment becoming even more severe in step with the uneven distribution of physicians and the unprecedented aging of the population, the approximately 150,000 medical and dental offices and clinics nationwide have begun to play an increasingly important role as the hub of local healthcare and preventive care service providers. In reality, however, the majority of these general practitioners’ facilities do have a limited budget, information, and time compared to large hospitals, making it difficult for them to invest in sophisticated medical equipment or to introduce new technologies. The Clinic Innovation Project will help meet these needs, through new, unconventional marketing that introduces innovations to the clinical practices of general practitioners who require sophisticated, high-quality, and affordable medical equipment. In this way, we aim to make contributions to reducing the burden of physicians and staffs, as well as improving healthcare services.

For the project, the shops showrooms, websites, and other platforms will be built jointly by RF, which has an accumulated know-how of direct marketing and sales based in five showrooms nationwide of medical equipment for general practitioners, and ITOCHU, which perceives increasing demand for equipment as primary screening examination and health management equipment, against a backdrop of the increasingly diverse roles of general practitioners in home healthcare services, including house calls and visits for the elderly, remote and telemedicine services, and preventive care. GE Healthcare, which is aiming to develop a new market for its products with general practitioners through these platforms, will collaborate with RF and ITOCHU in promoting the Clinic Innovation Project.

GE Healthcare has been addressing healthcare issues in line with the healthymagination *1, a global strategic initiative developed by GE in May 2009. One task has been to eliminate health disparities. There has been a gap in the healthcare services that can be provided by general hospitals or other major medical institutions and general practitioners’ offices or clinics, which has resulted from differences in the medical equipment available. Through its participation in the Clinic Innovation Project, GE Healthcare will strive to provide its sophisticated and high-quality equipment to general practitioners to help eliminate health disparities in Japan.

A project showroom set up in front of Tokyo Station will start showcasing and selling Vscan, a pocket-sized ultrasound diagnostic imaging equipment released by GE Healthcare in October 2010, and RF’s digital x-ray sensor NAOMI and dental products. Step by step, with enhanced product portfolio, it will serve as an antenna shop, a rarity in the healthcare industry, with the aim of improving the brand presence of the products. The companies will also increase the number of products available for sale both in stores and on an e-commerce website, aiming to provide new services in the healthcare industry and to respond to actual needs.

The showroom will also provide information and services required by physicians, specifically including the showcase of physician assistant applications for smartphones, which is attracting considerable attention in the healthcare industry, and other services that go in sync with the progress of IT intelligence and are in high demand from general practitioners; and that of services that support understaffed physicians’ offices and clinics. In addition, designers’ furniture for the clinic waiting lounge will be showcased and seminars will be offered in annexed RF showrooms. In this manner, we will ensure that the showroom functions as the place where physicians can share information and services, aiming to generate a synergy in drawing customers.

Showroom Profile

Showroom Name Clinic Innovation Project
Location 1F Yaesu Ekimae Godo Bldg., 1-9-13 Yaesu, Chuo-ku Tokyo
Site Area 67.06m2
Initial Product Portfolio

GE Healthcare Japan Corporation/Vscan (versatile ultrasound diagnostic imaging equipment)

RF Co., Ltd./ NAOMI (digital x-ray sensor), dental products, etc.

Vscan Overview

Retail Name Vscan (versatile ultrasound diagnostic imaging equipment)
Manufacturer & Distributer GE Healthcare Japan Corporation
Body Size 135 mm long x 73 mm wide x 28 mm deep
Screen Size 3.5 inch
Weight 390g *1


Docking station (connectable to personal computers via USB) *2

Battery Life 1 hour
Recommended Retail Price JPY 980,000 (tax included)
Release Date October 1, 2010
Initial Sales Target in Japan 1,000
Equipment Certification Number 221ABBZX00252000
  1. The weight includes a probe and battery.
  2. The versatile personal computer is a non-pharmaceutical product.

ITOCHU Corporation

ITOCHU Corporation (“ITOCHU”) has set up the Life & Healthcare business as one of the key business areas of significance in the Medium-Term Management Plan Frontiere 2010 and has been promoting efforts to establish and expand a number of new businesses in Life & Healthcare in Japan and overseas. In the area of medical equipment sales, associated companies such as Century Medical, Inc., Goodman Co., Ltd., and Japan Medical Dynamic Marketing Inc. have a strong track record, while ITOCHU is also scaling up its efforts in medical equipment sales to local governments and regional center hospitals in the area of disaster emergency medical services and in the operation of the secretariat of Japan Medical Partners, a multi-company consortium taking part in the fight against new influenza viruses. ITOCHU will boost medical equipment sales and provide more services to health clinics through the Clinic Innovation Project, working to generate synergy with its initiatives in areas where it already has a good track record.

GE Healthcare Japan

GE Healthcare Japan Corporation (“GE Healthcare Japan”) provides leading-edge medical technologies and services that design next-generation patent care, taking advantage of its specialties in a broad array of areas, ranging from diagnostic imaging equipment such as computerized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and diagnostic sonography, healthcare IT, medical diagnostics, and biological information monitoring, to drug discovery, biotechnology-based drugs, and the management support of medical institutions. As the core operating base in Japan of GE Healthcare, the healthcare business segment of General Electric (GE) in the United States, GE Healthcare Japan continues to develop innovative products and services to reduce medical costs, increase medical access and improve medical quality based on the “healthymagination” strategy that GE is currently promoting worldwide. GE Yokogawa Medical Systems and GE Health Bioscience merged their businesses on August 1, 2009 and began operating as GE Healthcare Japan Corporation. The business had 2,014 employees as of January 1, 2011, with 55 offices in Japan. Net sales in fiscal 2009 (January to December 2009) were approximately 119 billion yen. The website address is [Open in a new window]

  1. Healthymagination is a new strategy that GE has developed for healthcare in May 2009, aiming to find genuine solutions to serious medical problems facing the world. This is a core strategy in the same vein as “ecomagination,” which seeks to overcome environmental issues through innovation (introduced in May 2005), and it aims to reduce medical costs by 15%, increase medical access by 15%, and improve medical quality by 15% by introducing 100 kinds of innovations in four areas: the development of region-oriented technologies, the acceleration of healthcare IT, the provision of medical services with no disparity, and the promotion of home healthcare services. GE will invest a total of 6 billion dollars in the strategy by 2015. For more details about healthymagination, please visit

RF Co., Ltd.

RF Co., Ltd. ("RF") is an R&D manufacturer specializing in combined technology of CCD camera and wireless system. RF integrates the entire operation from R&D and manufacturing to marketing since its establishment in 1993, with its company policy, "Providing cutting-edge products at most affordable price".

RF believes that medical equipment should be "physically friendly to patients", "eliminating the burden on doctors and medical staffs" and "affordable to even small clinics in depopulated areas".

Digital x-ray sensor NAOMI, driving its operation mainly, can acquire an x-ray image with low-level irradiance which is about less than 1/16 of conventional x-ray film levels.

Capsule Endoscope Sayaka, now under development, is aiming at physically friendliness to even 2-months-old babies.

Most of RF customers are common general practitioners in small clinics examining various patients everyday with their first hand experience. RF, valuing the importance of first screening by those practitioners, has been developing unique products reflecting their voices and requests. Since its establishment, RF has managed its marketing by sending direct mails to customers, but has built up a new marketing scheme by setting "showrooms" just in front of Tokyo Station in 2006. This business model is a keystone of RF’s operation, which has converted "door-to-door sales" of sales method of the past medical industry, to "inviting doctors to showrooms".

RF has showrooms in Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka and Hiroshima as well, and will open at Oomiya, Sendai, Sapporo, and Ootsu in 2011 accordingly. In South Korea, RF applied this business model to market the medical equipment.

Please visit[Open in a new window]

  • RF has achieved and seized the top share in the Japan's direct digital x-ray (I.I. DR)
    market for two consecutive years from 2007 to 2008.
    (by Yano Research Institute Ltd. as of April 2010)